Color Correcting

May 26, 2016

When your product performs well, your customers are happy and you gain a reputation for having a high-quality product. But the reverse is true if your customers repeatedly see imperfections in their final results. They’re going to become dissatisfied, and the number of complaints will rise. And as word gets around, your once-loyal customers may start shopping for other paint brands.
However, there is a lot you can do to help ensure your end users are happy with your products – starting with how you select and use colorants in your paints and coatings. Here are of common sources of customers’ color complaints and tips to help you avoid them.

Color consistency
Using bases and colorants that aren’t compatible can lead to poor color acceptance and differences in color between containers could occur. Without good compatibility between the base and the colorant, the color will not be fully developed and could be sensitive to slight differences in mixing, representing a difference in amount of energy the mix is receiving, resulting in an inconsistent color mixed from batch to batch. If a colorant and base is fully compatible, these differences in mixing will not affect the color development and consistent color is delivered.
How do you avoid colorant incompatibility? It’s a matter of chemistry. The key is to select a colorant that is compatible with your base – a factor that varies greatly depending on the surfactants and dispersants already in your base, as well as the type of colorant you want to add. As a result, it’s important to ensure colorants are compatible with a base in the very early stages of product development. Rounds of lab testing will help you confirm which colorants are right – and wrong – for your product to prevent quality issues in the final application.
As equally important as having good compatibility between the colorant and the base, is the quality control of both the colorants and the paints and coatings to provide consistent products so that existing formulas work well. Consistent color benefits the consumer so that a color bought last year will match the color bought this year for touch up, and benefits the store selling the product in streamlining the process by minimizing the need for corrections.

Pigment settling
Colorants that contain dense, inorganic pigments such as iron oxides will always demonstrate a some degree of pigment settling. This makes for inconsistent color throughout the container of colorant, and if the colorant is not properly mixed prior to pouring into the dispenser canister, an incorrect paint color could occur.
The end result is that, when applied by your customers, the first can of paint might not have the same vibrancy and hue as the second can, as well as not matching the target color as intended. That can create problems for end users that are trying to achieve an even, visually appealing coordinated look once the paint is applied and dry.
While there is nothing you can do to prevent settling in a colorant container, you can reduce quality issues by following proper mixing and dispensing procedures for colorants. This step will help you ensure you’re introducing the proper amount of color to your paints and coatings throughout the entire batch.

Dispenser equipment and hygiene
If you are not seeing the right color for an established formula you have been using, one of the first items you may want to check is the dispenser. Check to see if the dispensing nozzles may have dried colorant on them; how does the colorant look in the canister, any contamination or mold growth?
Cleaning is less of an issue with solvent-based colorants, but with the growing popularity of low-VOC and high-strength versions, colorants are more likely to clog up machines with dried residue. How does this affect your customers? Clogged nozzles may cause machines to miss-tint and slow production, and dirty or unmaintained machinery can contaminate paint batches causing an increase of waste material.
The solution in both cases is to keep your colorant dispensing machines clean and well maintained throughout the year. Your dispenser manufacturer will have a recommendation for performing routine maintenance and how often the calibration of the dispenser should be checked.
Most color complaints about paints and coatings stem from two main areas – chemistry and processes. By addressing these issues proactively and with the help of colorant experts, you can deliver better color quality in your final products, along with a better experience for your end-use customers.

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